Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fourth Circuit holds that "cocaine base" is not confined to crack

In UNITED STATES v. RAMOS, the Fourth Circuit considered, inter alia, whether the enhanced penalties in 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) apply only to crack cocaine. The Court held that the plain language of the statute imposed no such limitation.

While we believe that Congress contemplated that "cocaine base" would include cocaine in the form commonly referred to as "crack" or "rock" cocaine, Congress neither limited the term to that form in the plain language of the statute nor demonstrated an intent to do so in the statute's legislative history. Congress used the chemical term "cocaine base" without explanation or limitation.

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